When training for a race, it’s always important to know exactly what your goals are. If you have any dreams of becoming faster, you may want to include some speed workouts in your plan. There are a few different kinds of speed workouts you can do, and one of them is a tempo run.
I’ll admit, I never saw the benefit of speed workouts, and definitely hated the tempo word! I didn’t know what the point really was, and running for a long duration at a faster speed was hard! That’s the thing though; in order to change and get faster, we have to do what’s hard and uncomfortable. Here’s a little break down at what you should be doing.
What is a Tempo Run:
A tempo run is a run that’s going to be harder than what you are used to. It shouldn’t be hard because that’s not the goal. You want it to be a more challenging pace than your easy runs, but one you can maintain for a period of time.
The tempo run will improve our metabolic fitness, which you want to do so you can increase the point at which your muscles will fatigue. If you increase your lactate threshold, your body and muscles will let you run further, which we all need in order to complete our races.
How do I find my lactate threshold pace?
There are a few ways you can find your lactate threshold, which then gives you your tempo pace. Runner’s world goes into the four different methods here. In short, you can look at your race pace, heart rate, perceived effort, and respiration rate to determine how fast you should be pushing yourself. Head over to the article to read what each of them means.
What should I aim timewise for my tempo run?
A tempo run is proportional for the distance you are training for. If you are training for a 5k, you won’t need as long of a tempo run as if you are training for a marathon. Ideally, you want to keep increasing your ability, so you wouldn’t start off running a tempo as far as you would by the end of your training program. For a 5k, aim for 2 tempo miles. For a 10k, aim for 4-6 tempo miles, and a half marathon aim for 6-8. If you are running a marathon (God bless ya ) you will want more, such as 8-10 tempo miles.
It’s hard for me to tell you what your pace should be. It should be faster than your normal runs, and a bit harder than those runs. You should feel uncomfortable at first pushing yourself, but fall into a groove. If you feel you are not able to breathe, and cannot continue for a duration of time running at that pace, you are going too fast so just slow down. Your body doesn’t need you to be sprinting, but rather running at a pace you typically don’t, and moving that lactate threshold up.
You can see on my training plan what my tempo runs look like. I complete them every other week, and noticed a huge difference last year when training for this race. On the off weeks, I complete a different speed workout with 800s.
Here is an example of a tempo run:
I change up the actual faster pace (tempo) portion depending on what my schedule says. I typically include my warm up and cool down time in with the total time written on my plan. It’s always at least 20 minutes of a faster pace, and then increasing it each time.